Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

LIFESTYLES

New road trip

Read more

THE BUSINESS INTERVIEW

Christian Kastrop, Director of Policy Studies, OECD

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Sarkozy's political comeback: Did he ever leave?

Read more

ENCORE!

Weekly Music Show: Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga's new album

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

Revolt in New Caledonia and rebuilding homes in Libya

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

UK coalition split on 'English votes for English laws'

Read more

WEB NEWS

Ukraine: Activists launch 'Blood Bucket Challenge'

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Ioannis Kasoulides, Cypriot Foreign Minister

Read more

FOCUS

Why do international students choose Paris?

Read more

An in-depth report by our senior reporters and team of correspondents from around the world. Every Saturday at 8.40 pm Paris time.

REPORTERS

REPORTERS

Latest update : 2011-11-18

EXCLUSIVE: With the U.S. Marines in Afghanistan, last days in enemy territory

After ten years at war, the United States has begun to pull its troops out of Afghanistan. In Helmand province, one of the most dangerous parts of the country, our reporters embedded with the very first unit to pull out: the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines. Codename: Darkside.

“OK, you’re going to get what you want: we’re going to patrol up north tomorrow. We’ll probably get shot at.” That’s Lieutenant Joseph Hanson talking, a 24 year-old officer of the U.S. Marine Corps. He has 40 Marines under his command and a small scar on his chest where he was hit by a bullet last June, on his birthday.

The promise of getting shot at has us pretty pumped up. Sylvain Rousseau and I have been embedded with the 3rd battalion, 4th Marines for ten days and we haven’t seen a single round fired. We’re here to cover the beginning of the American pullout from Afghanistan, so fighting is not really the focus of our report, but if truth be told, I wouldn’t mind seeing one of the world’s best fighting forces in action. Plus, it’s their job to protect me in case of attack, so I’m not particularly worried about my security. 

But in the end…no one got shot at. That day Hanson’s team had a lot of “ass”, Marine-talk for firepower. Attack helicopters, heavy machine guns and an extra squad of soldiers, just in case. So the Taliban fighters who had been spotted coming into the village decided not to pick a fight that morning. 

The Marines are not allowed to search houses here without being invited in by locals… so they were left with little choice but to return to base. And for most of the men, the walk back that day felt different: it was their very last patrol in Afghanistan, at the end of a 7-month deployment.

The 3rd battalion, 4th Marines is the very first American unit to pull out of Afghanistan. Our report tells the story of their last days in enemy territory. 

By Sylvain ROUSSEAU , Cyril VANIER

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2014-09-19 Algeria

From Sarajevo to Guantanamo, the journey of the Algerian Six

The day after the 9/11 attacks, six Algerian nationals were arrested in Bosnia-Herzegovina. They were accused of being terrorists and plotting fresh attacks against the United...

Read more

2014-09-12 referendum

Scotland: On the path to independence?

On September 18, Scotland votes in a referendum on independence from the United Kingdom. A "Yes" at the ballot box would mean the end of a union that’s lasted over 300 years and...

Read more

2014-09-05 Iraq

Kurdish fighters on the front line against IS militants

Even as Western powers struggle to put together a coalition to tackle the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS or ISIS), Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq have been battling for...

Read more

2013-05-03 Pakistan

Pakistan: Imran Khan, from the cricket field to politics

When Pakistanis go to the polls to choose a new prime minister on May 11th, one candidate could seriously shake up the race. Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, who led the...

Read more

2014-08-08 WWI centenary

WWI: The Somme, Land of Remembrance

Every year in France, more than 200,000 visitors walk across the battlefields of the Somme. They come from Great Britain, Canada or even from Australia and New Zealand with one...

Read more